Kogi state Governor, Yahaya Bello has said the state cannot manufacture coronavirus cases to participate in the benefits accrued to states having the disease in their domains.
Bello who spoke on Thursday when he received a team from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), led by Dr Noah Andrew, said the state has been responding well in handling suspected cases all which turned out to be false through measures it put in place.
He said the state has set up about 3 isolation centres in anticipation of but the centres have remained vacant as the state is yet to record any case.
“So you will notice that different from the practice in most places, we set up a Kogi State Covid-19 and Lassa Fever Squadron Committee to coordinate our response to the Covid-19 pandemic while ensuring we do not lose sight of existing epidemics like Lassa Fever which has already killed more people this year in Nigeria than the coronavirus.
“We were the first state to officially release a web application which the general public can deploy to self-assess for Covid-19 risk. That app has proved to be popular and effective in tackling fear among the populace in the face of an unknown killer disease.
“We have had over 200,000 engagements with that app, over 14,000 completed self-assessments revealing scores of cases which required further investigation before Covid-19 could be ruled out. This is great as we all know how fear and disinformation are often overlooked but highly dangerous co-travellers with disease outbreaks and other phenomena which disrupt the social order.
“To improve our degree of certainty when ruling out cases, our Commissioner for Health, the State Epidemiologist and other senior medical personnel have had to personally follow up on as many of the feedback cases as possible, in both urban and remote locations. They have been able to determine in a professional manner based on the NCDC and WHO criteria that none of the suspected cases qualified as a Covid-19 case.
“Moreover, it has been over 3, 4, even 5 weeks in some instances since some of these cases were investigated and cleared and we have not had even one case of Covid-19. This goes to show that our processes are thorough enough. This is how the foundation for our zero Covid-19 status was laid and how it is sustained till today.
“Our people are adequately sensitised in all languages and locations throughout the state about Covid-19. As much as practicable Kogites now observe social distancing, handwashing and other protocols for prevention of infection.
“The Kogi State Ministry of Health has deployed health personnel to all the 239 Wards of the State, 2 focal persons per ward, who constantly sensitize the people on the dangers of the virus, communicate news or even rumours of suspected cases to the incident committee or task force for investigation and also assist in contact tracing.
“We have set up 3 modern Isolation/ Containment Centres in the State having a combined capacity of 130-bed spaces. These facilities currently lie unused. It is our prayer and our determination that these isolation centres will remain vacant until the pandemic is over.
“We have provided emergency and toll-free numbers for the general public to call in and report suspected cases of Covid-19 at no cost whatsoever. We have also fielded many of such calls. All of them turned out to be false alarms upon investigation and did not meet the criteria from the NCDC for cases which should be sampled for testing.
“In the circumstances, we cannot manufacture cases in order to be counted among the states which have recorded same. As a Governor I hear there are ‘benefits’ for having Covid-19 cases in your state, well, I am not interested” he said.
Andrew who said he was in the state to present a letter titled, “Deployment of rapid response squad to help in fighting Covid-19”, to the Governor said the mission of the NCDC was to provide logistics to all states of the federation.
“We are here to support the state in shipping swab and samples and ascertain the preparedness of the state in fighting Covid-19” he said.
Andrew said two members of the team would be stationed in the state to supports its efforts in curbing spread of the disease.